Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Good Old Benito

Retired Gen. Michael Flynn, one of the folks being vetted by Donald Trump as a vice presidential candidate, did a 180 on his pro-choice stand, saying basically “oh, I mean I’m pro-life.”

Fine; that puts him in the same place as Mr. Trump both in terms of that particular point of view and his “flexibility” on issues.  But Josh Marshall also dug up another interesting bit of information about the general: he co-authored a book with Michael Ledeen.

Who’s that?

Ledeen is genuinely a man of ideas and letters. It’s just that the ideas tend to be a bit evil or post-moral in a functionally equivalent way. Ledeen’s key intellectual influence was the Italian fascism or neo-fascism he came into contact with during his time in Italy during the 1970s. Without getting too deep into the story, Ledeen was part of a movement to distinguish ‘fascism’ as a set of ideas, an intellectual movement from the fascist dictatorship of Benito Mussolini.


In a fascinating touch, back in May Ledeen was attacking critics like Robert Kagan who were calling Trump ‘fascist’ but, in a notable and predictable twist, on the theory that Trump wasn’t really good enough for the fascist label. “For Mr. Kagan (surprisingly and disappointingly praised by Bret Stephens),” writes Ledeen, “fascism is little more than any political movement led by a charismatic strong man … Mr. Kagan doesn’t discuss the revolutionary aspect of fascism. Italian fascists claimed to be able to unleash the creative powers of a “new fascist man,” while the Nazis advocated the superiority of the Aryan race. Neither concept is to be found anywhere in Trumpism either in theory or practice.”

Maybe Mr. Trump will make Michael Ledeen Secretary of Transportation…or at least the head of Amtrak.